Samsung is reported discontinuing what some are already calling the Korean company's prettiest phone yet to focus on less expensive devices.
The Galaxy Alpha, Samsung's first metallic-frame smartphone, was released in September of 2014 to relatively high praise. But that praise wasn't enough to boost sales up to Samsung's expectations, so the company is said to be phasing out the Galaxy Alpha to focus on the much cheaper Galaxy A5.
In a September review of the Galaxy Alpha, The Verge's Vlad Savov gave glowing praise to the 4.7-inch smartphone, focusing mostly on its metal iPhone-like design and handsomely good looks. "The sheen from those polished edges makes all the difference, combining with the lustrous Super AMOLED display to make a great first impression," Savov said. "Some devices look better in press photos than reality - the LG G Watch R is a recent example - but the Galaxy Alpha is exactly the opposite. You have to see it in person to appreciate its slick and refined look."
TechRadar's Jon Mundy called the Alpha "arguably the most balanced and comfortable-to-use premium phone Samsung has made since the Samsung Galaxy S2" while Engadget's 78/100 score from Brad Molen points to the Alpha as one of the "best-looking handsets the manufacturer has produced in years."
Interestingly enough, Molen also mentions that this kind of quality is important to Samsung. "For a company suffering from slowing sales and looking for new ways to compete with the iPhone, devices like the Alpha are essential."
So why the about-face from Samsung? According to a report at Korea's ET News, "It is thought of as the move to take the bull by the horns under increasing pressure to lower prices due to the enforcement of the Terminal Distribution Structure Improvement Act."
In other words, Samsung is feeling intense pressure to go right to where the global money is: mid-to-low-end accessibility in a smartphone. The A5 has provided that type of success so far during its initial launch in China and Taiwan, so Samsung will be bringing it to Korea "as early as mid-January" for KRW 4,000,000 (around $360).
"After the enforcement of the Terminal Distribution Structure Improvement Act, it was confirmed that there are demands for mid-to low-priced cell phones like the MVNO phones," said Chang Jung-hyeok, vice-president of Atlas Research. "Even in the same price range, Chinese phones are less reliable than Samsung phones. So it will be meaningful as a premium model in the mid-to low-priced product line."
The A5 features a 5-inch Super AMOLED screen, the 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, and a high-powered 13-megapixel rear camera. It also features a metal frame, but the Alpha is a much beefier phone, with a Snapdragon 801 processor standard.
Samsung's Galaxy Alpha will continue production "until the materials currently in inventory are used up," which is expected around early February. There's no word yet on if the Galaxy A5 or Galaxy Alpha will ever become available in the U.S.